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Tuesday, July 30, 2002, CST

Day 6, The Li River is clean!


We had a 6:30am wake up call, but they missed Michael’s and my room. All through this trip, the rooms have been too small for a family of 4, so Michael and I have been boarding together, and Lorraine and Stephanie have been together. The other families have been making similar arrangements, with 2 to a room. This time we were lucky enough that some were able to open their doors into a suite. The downside, is that whenever you need your luggage, it turns out to be in the other room. Today’s breakfast was more like the old days, of fried eggs, swimming in oil, pancakes that tasted more like some kind of bread, and orange juice that I think was a cross between Sunny Delight and Tang.


We had an enjoyable ride through the countryside to the wharf, where we would board our boat for a Li River cruise. This is how I remembered Guilin, with its’ fields of rice paddies, and water buffalos working the fields.  Every once in a while, the bus driver would honk the horn at a buffalo in the road, but it did no good, and he had to swerve around it. The cruise boats were newer than our first trip, but they looked the same, and seemed to have aged the same. They had good air conditioning, and western bathrooms, which was a change from the old days, however. I wasn’t too excited about lunch, as they still prepare the food on the back deck of the boat, and dish out the servings on the floor of the deck.  Others reported that it wasn’t the best tasting food, and I made do with the fresh fruit, instead.


The weather was very pleasant, with a nice breeze, and overcast skies. I think being away from the city also helped a lot. I spent most of the trip on the top deck, where the view of the spectacular mist covered mountains, and meandering river was the best. We were sharing this boat with a couple of other tours, including a group of Europeans, from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Back in 1985, we said this is what it would look like, if they made Yosemite into a garbage dump. In 1998, there was a conference on the Environment and development, held in Gulin. Hillary Clinton, represented the US.  As a result, the country has a new awareness of environmental concerns, especially for their tourist attractions, and the river was remarkably clean. No longer do the boats dump their garbage overboard, and there are signs reminding the passengers not to throw food, garbage or coins overboard.  Upon arrival in Yuang Shoo, we were bombarded with blocks and blocks of souvenir vendors. With 30 minutes to kill, before our bus came to pick us up, we were a captive group.  New this year, the tour buses are no longer allowed to come close to town, so we hopped on a golf cart to take us to the bus parking.


Another beautiful drive through the countryside, and rice paddies, with a couple of stops for pictures, and we were back in the city. Our hour before dinner was spent in an underground shopping area, which was a city, in itself, complete with street signs, and blocks and blocks of stores.  This is a locals shopping area, and we saw no tourists. They had clothes, food, US CDs, with Chinese labels, probably pirated, and lots of San Rio type stores for the girls. With our purchases in hand, it was time for dinner, before boarding our flight to Xian


The flight to Xian, was uneventful, aboard a China Northern A320, and took about 1hour 45 minutes.



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